And saying, Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Sometimes, nay, often, a church or a nation lies like a ship becalmed on the tropic sea. The air around it is heavy with pestilence and with death. The heat and the stagnation bring forth a brood of contemptible vices. Then some rushing storm-centre comes sweeping across the waters, and gathers into its bosom all the thunders of the lurid sky, lashes into fury the lazy elements, torments the putrescent waves into spray and foam, whirls the ship along with the noise of waterspouts, kindles electric fire upon its masts, making the ship's crew pale their features with fear — drunken, or slumbering, or careless as they are. And even such a storm-centre of moral force was St. John the Baptist. For a brief time be cleared the air of a religion heavy with imposture, but it was too late. A few pure souls prepared by him had listened in the hush which followed to the voice of Christ; but the heavy pall of formalism and insincerity fell again upon the nation, fold by fold, and when the hurricane burst upon it once more, it was not the purifying storm of spiritual regeneration, it was the tornado of final destination.
(F. W. Farrar.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.